Thursday, June 9, 2016
PRESEASON: BLUE BOMBERS 36 ALOUETTES 13
WINNIPEG - Kicker Sergio Castillo knows his time with the Blue Bombers may be short, but on Wednesday night he relished his part in the team's 36-13 exhibition win over the Montreal Alouettes.
Castillo booted four field goals and Winnipeg kept the Alouettes off the scoreboard in the second half in front of 23,334 fans at Investors Group Field.
Castillo was with the club last year but fellow import Justin Medlock was a pricey free-agent acquisition.
"I knew the situation coming in, but the way I took it is I'm just going to learn as much as I can from Medlock because he's proven to be the best,'' Castillo said. "I hope to be in his situation one day.''
Medlock opened the game's scoring with a 47-yard field goal and added a convert. He's the most accurate kicker in CFL history with a career field-goal percentage of 87.5 through five seasons.
Castillo made field goals from 35, 44, 39 and 49 yards, went wide on a 44-yard attempt and put through two converts.
"He's the next good import kicker in the CFL,'' Medlock said of Castillo. "It'll be interesting to see where he ends up.''
Last season, Winnipeg's main kicker Lirim Hajrullahu and Castillo combined to make only 32-of-45 field-goal attempts (70.3 per cent). Hajrullahu is now with Toronto.
Winnipeg got its touchdowns off one-yard runs by tailback Tim Flanders and backup quarterback Bryan Bennett. Fred Williams hung on to a 28-yard TD pass from Bennett.
Nik Lewis hauled in a TD catch from Kevin Glenn and receiver Chandler Jones did the same with a Rakeem Cato throw for Montreal. Kicker Boris Bede made one convert and missed another.
"Most of these guys, they're seeing their first action in football,'' Lewis said. "It's one of those things that young guys are going to go out there, they're going to play hard and make a couple mistakes. But I thought they made some plays.''
He liked what the first-team offence did with Kevin Glenn under centre.
"We ran 31 plays in just over a quarter or so,'' Lewis said. "I mean, last year I think we ran under 50 plays in like three or four games.
"The fact that we're staying on the field keeping our defence off the field, getting the ball in the hands of the playmakers and letting us make plays, I think that's a big step in the right direction.''
Winnipeg had a 3-0 lead after the first quarter, but Montreal went ahead 13-3. Flanders then tied the game 13-13 as time expired on the first half and the Alouettes were shut out the rest of the way.
The game was highlighted by the usual pre-season mistakes and jitters. Even the CFL's new stats system crashed in the second quarter.
Winnipeg had an Andrew Harris catch-and-run major called back because of a penalty and Montreal had a fumble recovery wiped out on review and fumbled a kickoff return.
But the crowd did cheer loudly when the homegrown product made his first carry, a six-yarder early in the first quarter.
"It was great. It was a lot of fun,'' said Harris, another free-agent signing. "It was an exciting game.
"Obviously to get the first carry and hear the fans respond to it, it was exciting. I thought all three facets of our team tonight were electric and making plays.''
Starting quarterback Drew Willy played one quarter for Winnipeg and backups Matt Nichols, Dominique Davis and Bennett also got some action.
Glenn stayed in until Lewis's TD catch early in the second quarter. He was replaced by Cato, Canadian Brandon Bridge and Vernon Adams.
Willy completed 3-of-6 pass attempts for 52 yards. Glenn was 14 of 19 for 140 yards and the TD toss to Lewis.
Winnipeg plays its last pre-season game Monday in Ottawa. Montreal hosts Toronto on Friday.